Tarragon Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Tarragon

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tarragon is a popular perennial herb commonly used in French and English cooking. There are different varieties of tarragon but each is a member of the Compositae or Asteraceae (sunflower) family and has distinctive licorice, lemon, and basil flavor.

Tarragon Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information, for 1 teaspoon (0.6 grams) of tarragon, is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 1.77
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 0.1g

Carbs

In 1 teaspoon of tarragon, there is 0.3 grams of carbs. There is not a significant amount of carbs in a serving of tarragon.

Fats

Tarragon does not have any fat.

Protein

Tarragon has 0.1 grams of protein in a single teaspoon. Tarragon is not a substantial source of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Tarragon contains several vitamins and minerals. Vitamins in tarragon include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folate.

Minerals in tarragon include calcium (54.7 milligrams), iron (1.5 milligrams), magnesium (16.7 milligrams), phosphorus (15 milligrams), potassium (145 milligrams), and small amounts of sodium, zinc, manganese, and selenium. However, it is important to note that these vitamins are in relatively insignificant amounts in the serving typically consumed.

Health Benefits

Tarragon has been used throughout history for medicinal purposes, but modern science has uncovered further benefits. Here are some potential health benefits of tarragon.

Protects Against Oxidative Stress

Flavonoids are compounds that have an antioxidant effect. Tarragon is high in flavonoids including quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin, naringenin, and several more. Tarragon herb extracts contain phenolic acids, mainly chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid.

These plant compounds are essential for health. They work as antioxidants that fight free radicals and oxidative stress that cause cellular damage. Food ingredients like tarragon are the best sources of these important plant compounds.

Fights Bacteria

Tarragon contains anti-bacterial properties. While most research is performed on the essential oils of tarragon, researchers believe consuming tarragon extract may reduce the exposure to bacteria. These bacteria include Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus, B. subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes.

May Reduce Inflammation

Animal studies on tarragon show its potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. Researchers note the extract of tarragon show it reduced the level of inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are secreted from immune cells and some other cells and promote inflammation, but more research is necessary.

May Improve Mental Resilience

Studies on animals have shown tarragon may help reduce stress and increase resistance to depression. Researchers believe the plant’s antidepressant ability to the existence of phenolic and flavonoid compounds, including chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid or luteolin, and quercetin.

May Help Stimulate the Thyroid

Studies on animals have shown the extract of tarragon may boost thyroid health. A significant increase in thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels occurred after administering 300 milligrams/kilograms of the plant extract.

Thyroxine and triiodothyronine are hormones produced by the thyroid that help control metabolism. According to the researchers, this extract may improve the thyroid hormone profile, but further research is needed.

Note that scientific studies on tarragon are mostly conducted using the extract, which is a highly concentrated form of the herb. Eating tarragon in your meals is not likely to have a similar effect.

Allergies

A true allergy to tarragon is rare. However, if you experience signs of an allergy or intolerance, it is best to see a healthcare provider for an allergy test. Signs of a potential allergy or intolerance include rash, itching in the mouth, and cough.

Adverse Effects

Tarragon is likely safe when consumed in amounts typically found in food. If used medicinally for the short term, it is also expected to be safe. However, long-term use may not be safe.

Tarragon contains chemicals (estragole and methyl eugenol) that have demonstrated toxicity in mice. However, according to one published report, the researchers did not observe any acute toxicity or mutagenic activity when doses were at those normal for human consumption." Still, health experts advise caution when considering tarragon as medicine for the long term.

Specific populations should avoid tarragon until speaking to a healthcare provider, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, patients with a bleeding disorder, those with an allergy to ragweed, and anyone undergoing surgery within 2 weeks.

Varieties

French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is most commonly used in cooking, while Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculoides) is a hardier plant and has a flavor that many describe as bitter. And Mexican tarragon, also called Mexican marigold mint or Spanish tarragon, which is similar to French tarragon, has a slightly more licorice-like taste.

Storage and Food Safety

You'll find fresh tarragon in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for bright green leaves with few or no brown spots. When you get it home, wrap it loosely in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Dried tarragon leaves or ground tarragon can be found in the spice aisle of the market. Like all spices, it should be stored in a cool, dry cupboard. You also can freeze tarragon, although the texture of tarragon may change when you freeze it. There are different methods that cooks use to freeze this herb.

You can chop tarragon and place it into the sections of an ice cube tray, then fill it with water to freeze. Or you can place tarragon in a baggie and remove extra air so that it is vacuum-sealed and freeze.

How to Prepare

When you use tarragon, add it to the dish at the last minute to take full advantage of the herb's flavor. The mild fresh taste of tarragon pairs well with chicken, fish, and egg dishes.

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Spices, tarragon, dried.

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Additional Reading